(1) The minimal meaningful unit of the acoustic components that make up the intonation of a phrase. The component may involve melodics (in which case the prosodeme is called a toneme or melodeme), intensity (an accenteme), and temporal characteristics (a chroneme). Within a larger unit—the intoneme (in a real utterance)—the various types of prosodemes fulfill different communicative functions. Melo-demes convey syntactical meanings, chronemes of tempo contrast what is informationally important and unimportant for the listener, and chronemes of pause essentially convey the relationships between differentiated units of speech (explication, contrast, sequence). The composition of the prosodeme has not been conclusively defined.

(2) The shortest prosodic unit of language—the syllable or mora.

(3) Specific acoustic characteristics of a word or group of sounds, such as nasality; these are also called prosodic characteristics.


Zinder, L. R. Obshchaia fonetika. Leningrad, 1960.
Liberman, A. S. Islandskaia prosodika. Leningrad, 1971.
Potapova, R. K. Osnovnye sovremennye sposoby analiza i sinteza rechi. Moscow, 1971.
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Nous pourrions dire que l'intonation est une unite linguistiquement pertinente qui fait partie de la construction de l'enonce; c'est un prosodeme capable d'apporter un sens et qui agit aussi bien au niveau segmental (sur le plan syntaxique) qu'au niveau suprasegmental (par ses implications expressives) (Blanco, 2002).